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Josh Barker: Key stat could be crucial to Arsenal winning Premier League title


Arsenal are once again in the Premier League title race this season but unlike in 2022/23, they are fighting from underneath, rather than dominating the division as they did last year until their collapse in April.

Part of the reason for Arsenal’s slight drop-off in form from last term has been a lack of goals.

The Gunners had scored 37 in 20 before their recent meeting with Crystal Palace, which was the lowest of the top-five clubs by some margin. And even after netting five vs the Eagles, they remain the lowest scorers in the top five despite having played a game more than a Manchester City who are still without Erling Haaland

A lack of goals from the Gunners has seen fans call for their club to sign a striker in January. However, Mikel Arteta dented any hope of that happening with his comments earlier this month:

“At the moment it does not look realistic,” he stated. “What my job is, and what we have to do is improve our players and try to get better results with the players we have.

“What I beg from the supporters is that they are behind the team like they have been in difficult moments. Stick behind the ones that we have. They are incredibly good. If not then they don’t do what they’ve done today and in Anfield. Stick by them.

“That’s exactly what they need. Then they feel important and supported. With their attitude they don’t deserve anything different. That’s my opinion.”

This no doubt upset some of the Arsenal faithful but the north Londoners do have one key weapon in their back pocket, which could prove to be huge in the title race – their threat from set pieces.

Gabriel scored the opening goal of the game against Palace from a corner, with the own goal from Dean Henderson in the 37th minute also coming from an Arsenal corner.

Arsenal now have the most goals scored from set-pieces, most goals scored from corners and most headed goals in the Premier League this campaign.

A key reason for this is the club’s set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover, who worked with Arteta for several months under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in 2019 and is now helping transform an area of weakness prior to his arrival into one of strength.

Arsenal had conceded four goals from set pieces in six games prior to their winter break, but they turned those moments in both boxes back into positives vs Palace for a result that puts them back on track in the title race.

If the Gunners are able to continue their dominance in both boxes then their lack of a high-scoring no.9, on paper, should not be too much of an issue.

Arsenal’s backline was already fairly solid, but tightening up from set-pieces will make them even harder to break down for the majority of sides.

Mikel Arteta was also quick to point out in his post-Palace press conference that Arsenal need to share the goals around and he wants to see his centre-backs step up in that regard:

“Absolutely,” the Spaniard responded when asked if he wants to see more goals from defenders. “He [Gabriel] has got this ability and the timing and deliveries have been really consistent. Others like Willie (Saliba) have this capacity to score more goals. We don’t have 30-40 goals from someone so we need to share them. That is a good quality of the team.”

On goals from set pieces, the Arsenal boss continued: “It’s very important. The reality is that we trained set pieces less in the last week than other aspects of the game. This is the beauty of it. But we worked on a lot of things that actually happened and we trained them a lot.

“Really pleased with the clean sheet first, which is something that we’ve been lacking to win games with the amount of goals scores. And sharing the goals as well which I think is going to make a big impact on the team.”

Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.